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Vaux’s Swifts (Video)

This is one of those things that most people will never see in their lifetime. Over 6,000 Vaux’s Swifts pouring into a chimney to roost. Every fall as the Vaux’s Swifts are migrating from their breeding grounds in Southern Alaska they will seek refuge in dark, protected areas (such as caves or chimneys) to roost in each night along their journey to their wintering grounds in the Yucatan. There just so happens to be a particular chimney on an abandoned building in Downtown Los Angeles that is still left standing that the Vaux’s Swifts understandably favor.

I decided to take video footage of the amazing event from a nearby parking garage. When we arrived there was already a small gathering of people on the rooftop waiting to see the amazing spectacle. As it grew closer and closer to dusk more and more Vaux’s Swifts began circling above. Ravens aware of the situation, perched at the edge of the chimney picking off the few that dared get too close to them. You could hear the gasps from the crowd when it happened.

By sunset there were well over 5,000 Swifts circling in a giant vortex above us. As it grew darker, the Swifts began circling and slowly filing into the chimney one by one. Had I been alone on the rooftop, you would have heard the almost deafening roar of the Swifts in the background. Unfortunately all you can hear is the loud chatter of the other people which is why I chose to dub over the audio with a peaceful celtic melody.

Hope you enjoy watching the video:


Posted by on October 2, 2011 in Photography Adventures

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Local Stuff

I started early Thursday morning looking for the Brant on Ballona Cr. – No luck. I then decided to mix things up a bit by looking for the wintering Yellow-bellied Sapsucker at Lindberg Park in Culver City. Although I never found the Sapsucker, I found many White-throated Swifts, Northern Rough-winged, Cliff and Tree Swallows circling above the park. It’s always a challenge to capture fast moving Swallows and Swifts but I managed to come out with a few new, half decent photos.

White-throated Swift
White-throated Swift

Cliff Swallow
Cliff Swallow

Northern Rough-winged Swallow
Northern Rough-winged Swallow

Today a report of a “possible” Laysan Albatross circling the Ballona Wetlands came through the wire. Soon as I heard I threw my camera on the passenger seat of my car and headed out. Not even a few blocks from my house, an accipiter zipped across the road and landed in a tree at virtually eye-level. I pulled over really quick and ended up snapping FULL-FRAME photos of an adult Cooper’s Hawk!

Cooper's Hawk
Cooper’s Hawk


Posted by on March 6, 2009 in Photography Adventures

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